How to Have an Awesome Time at a Writers Conference

1. BE PREPARED. Conferences are crazy, and you want to be prepared for whatever opportunity an industry pro might throw at you. Yes, polish your pitch; yes, study up on the faculty. But one of most important things you can do is have your work handy at all times. On the off chance that you’re talking to an agent and she asks for some pages, you’d better have them—and I’d suggest having them on your person.
Author:
Publish date:

1. BE PREPARED

Conferences are crazy, and you want to be prepared for whatever opportunity an industry pro might throw at you. Yes, polish your pitch; yes, study up on the faculty. But one of most important things you can do is have your work handy at all times. On the off chance that you’re talking to an agent and she asks for some pages, you’d better have them—and I’d suggest having them on your person. Ask New Leaf Literary's Janet Reid (formerly with FinePrint Literary Management). If you’re the tree-hugger type, stick your work on a thumb drive and carry that with you.

Image placeholder title

Ricki Schultz is a freelance writer and
will be presenting at the 2010
Southeastern Writers Workshop in
St. Simons Island, Ga., June 20-24.


When I attended last year’s Southeastern Writers Association conference, a last-minute schedule change resulted in an impromptu slush session, which required a query letter and the first two pages of your manuscript. While I didn’t have any hard copies on me, I did have my laptop. I threw those suckers on a flash drive, raced to the copy place down the street, and—bam!—I was ready to get some feedback from an agent.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

2. DRESS THE PART

This simple cliché from the business world can help you stand out at writing conferences. As much as we might resist it because we’re writers (and, therefore, averse to anything as cold and unfeeling as the business world), writing is a business. You have to be able to sell your writing—and the first way to do that at a conference is to sell people on you. Your attire won’t get you a book deal, but dressing in professional garb will make you pop against all the schlubs who didn’t.

3. BE VISIBLE

How can agents fall in love with you if they never see you? Participate in as much as you can in terms of contests, pitch sessions, critiques, slush fests, as well as the classes themselves—even though some of these things cost more dough. You’ve already schlepped your way to the conference, so splurge a little on these “extras” because they represent unique opportunities to network, gain feedback—and get noticed. During my first year at SWA, I entered two novel contests. I wasn’t expecting to win either because not only was it my first-ever conference, it was also my first-ever manuscript. However, had I gone with my gut and not entered, I never would have won first place in one of categories, which I did (to my utter surprise!). As well, I signed up for every critique I could—and, in one, I learned I wasn’t writing chick lit, but young adult (a big “aha” moment in my writing).

4. BE OPEN

No one said going to conferences isn’t scary at first, but be open to doing some things that might normally make you cringe (i.e., striking up conversations with complete strangers, sharing your work at an open mic, etc.) because when else are you going to get these chances? If you take risks, others will wish they had the same bravado—and you might just impress some heavy hitters in the process.

FightWrite_12:04

FightWrite™: Crime Fiction and Violence

Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch answers a writer's question about writing from the perspective of criminals and when best to utilize a fight.

Poetic Forms

Sedoka: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the sedoka, a 6-line question and answer Japanese form.

plot_twist_story_prompts_dream_sequence_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dream Sequence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your characters dream a little dream.

WD Vintage_Armour 12:03

Vintage WD: Don't Hide Your Light Verse Under a Bushel

In this article from 1960, poet and author Richard Armour explores the importance of light verse and gives helpful hints to the hopeful poet.

Arlen_12:1

Tessa Arlen: On Polite Editorial Tussles and Unraveling Mysteries

In this article, author Tessa Arlen explains how to navigate the differences between American and English audiences and create a realistic historical mystery.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 547

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a lazy poem.

Williams_12:1

Denise Williams: Romance, Healing, and Learning to Love Revisions

Author Denise Williams recounts her experience with writing her first book while learning about the publishing industry and the biggest surprise about novel revisions.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 13th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.